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Best fresh fish markets in DC, pref. NW?

Or a store that sells unusually fresh fish. I used to shop at a local fish store in Silver Spring, which was fantastic -- but now that I'm in DC proper, I just have no idea where to start. Suggestions?

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  1. Some other people might have better suggestions but I buy all of my fish (a couple times a week) from the Whole Foods on P Street. I find that their fish is quite fresh, they have a nice selection (of both plain fish and already seasoned/prepared raw fish---think blackened catfish or macademia nut covered salmon), and the guys that work the counter are very helpful. Prices aren't terribly bad either. (I'm sure there are cheaper places in town but this is only a short walk from my apartment).

    1. Not everyone on this board agrees, but I like the Maine Avenue Fish Market, which is accessible from the L'Enfant Plaza metro stop, or the DC Circulator bus line that runs on 7th street down to the waterfront. It's kind of gritty and can be unnerving as the vendors shout to try to entice you to buy from them, but once you get used to that, it's really a great "local color" sort of place with a grand selection.

      3 Replies
      1. re: dcandohio

        Yea, I've heard rumblings about Maine Ave, including one post that said fish from there is a definite health risk. I wonder what that poster's recs would be...

        1. re: tastytamarind

          I'm one who wouldn't buy fish there after seeing the same fish on ice at a stand after a week. During the first visit with some ichthyologist (scientists of fishes) friends, they pointed out an anomoly on a particular specimen (that would not affect it's suitability for eating), which is how I recognized it a week later.

          My recommendation is below.

          1. re: bacchante

            Ew! I just shivered at that story!

      2. Recently I've been going to BlackSalt's market on MacArthur Ave. It's a little out of the way and it's not cheap, but their fish is great.

        6 Replies
        1. re: chickenlover

          Really? That's pretty close to me...

          I find the fish at Whole Foods and Balducci's makes me want to yak. It always looks dried out and scuzzy.

          1. re: caphill2320

            Really? What Whole Foods are you going to? The one on P St. in Logan Circle constantly is being sprinkled with water and I find the section never has a gross overly fishy smell. The salmon and other cuts I get are usually very good.

            1. re: Elyssa

              I have had to throw away fish from the Whole Foods in Arlington. Cooked the same day it was purchased, the texture of one of two whole mackerels was so mushy it made me gag. The other was only slightly better. I would guess too long soaking in whatever they soak it in (chlorine?) to make it not go bad from bacterial growth.

              On the other hand, EVERYTHING at Black Salt that I have seen has been pristine. Everything I have purchased and cooked has been perfectly fresh. Plus, they have some things there that you don't find everywhere.

              1. re: Elyssa

                ...the whole foods on P street has WAY more turnover in goods than any other. In fact, it is the busiest whole foods per sq foot in the entire chain.

                When I lived nearby, I loved that store. Now that I live closer to the River Road one, I notice a big difference in quality. And...the other day I was at WF P Street and was discussing the new store on Wiscon. Ave in Chevy Chase with the manager and he said they get a lot of complaints about the Bethesda store....

                I wouldn't buy fish from that one (if I ate it).

                1. re: Elyssa

                  I go to the Glover Park WF. They have a ton of fish and that brand new huge counter, but I'm telling you, just looking at their fish kills my appetite,

                2. re: caphill2320

                  I might also add that the service at Blacksalt is exemplary. The fishmongers are happy to give suggestions on what to buy and how to cook it. Like you, I found the fish at Whole Foods (P St. and G-town locations) sub par at best.

              2. I would also suggest BlackSalt on MacArthur

                1. Blacksalt on McArthur Blvd is a great fish market and restaurant. I used by buy fresh skate, diver scallops, and other really good stuff there before I moved to San Diego. It's also right next door to McArthur Beverages, so you can grab a great bottle of wine to go with the fish!